The 2018 NFL Draft is over. Some people would tell you that it’s impossible to know who did well and who did poorly until players’ careers have started to unfold. But those people are wrong. I already know for sure who won and lost the draft, and I’m willing to tell you now.
Winner: the Seahawks on Day 3
There are people who will think it was silly that the Seahawks traded up in the draft to take a punter in the fifth round. There are people who won’t understand why they picked a linebacker who has one hand. Let those people be confused.
Fifth-round linebacker Shaquem Griffin is an inspiring story, yeah, but also a baller. Fifth-round punter Michael Dickson is one of the best punting prospects in the history of the draft. It’s pretty much a sure thing that Dickson holds down that position for years, and Griffin has real upside. I also think Jamarco Jones, the Ohio State tackle whom the Seahawks used the last of their four fourth-round picks on, could turn out to be a good player. This was important after the Seahawks, with their terrible line, didn’t get any reinforcements at the position on Friday.
Loser: the Seahawks’ equipment manager
Shaquem Griffin and his twin brother, Seattle cornerback Shaquill, have the same first five letters of their first names. They have the same last name. Whoever has to stitch nameplates onto the backs of their jerseys is looking at some extreme confusion. The Seahawks didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on what their plan might be on this front. It’ll be a subplot to watch in the months ahead.
It’s awesome that they’re going to get to play together in Seattle, though.
Winner: the Ravens
The Ravens picked a bunch of guys who were great college football players, which is a strong indicator that they can be good NFL players. Examples:
I adore this draft class.
Same rationale as for the Ravens, really. They went to both sides of the Alabama-LSU rivalry with their first two picks, and they made two good ones. First-round defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne will be brilliant if deployed right. Second-round running back Derrius Guice is a vicious runner, no matter why he fell in the draft. Fifth-round DT Tim Settle, out of Virginia Tech, is way more talented than the 163rd overall pick. The same is true for Alabama inside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, whose injuries gave Washington the chance to pick him at No. 197, near the end of the sixth round. If he’s healthy, he’s likely a steal.
Winner: the Raiders, for their Maurice Hurst pick
Loser: the Raiders, for an iffy start to the draft
Hurst, a defensive tackle from Michigan, is a first-round talent. He fell because of concerns surrounding a heart condition that teams diagnosed at the league’s scouting combine earlier in the spring. The Raiders took him in the fifth round, which carries risk for them and potentially immense risk for Hurst. There’s nothing anyone should hope for more out of this draft than Hurst’s good health. If he gets it, as the team and player think he will, the Raiders got the steal of the year. They also made a potentially strong seventh-round pick in big Oklahoma State receiver Marcell Ateman.
Other than Hurst and Ateman, the Raiders’ draft was iffy. They spent their first-round pick on Kolton Miller, a UCLA offensive tackle, which was surprising to me, a college football writer who didn’t realize UCLA had an offensive line at all last season. They took FCS players in both the second and third round, and while FCS players are sometimes great, they’re risky. There’s not a lot of tape on them playing against top-tier competition.
They spent a third-round pick on LSU edge defender Arden Key, who was once thought of as a high-first-round pick but had a bad combine and some off-field problems. A pick like Key always carries the possibility of turning out to be wonderful value, but he really trended in the wrong direction leading up to the draft.
Winner: the Steelers
The Steelers are here because they got NC State’s Jaylen Samuels in the fifth round. Samuels is one of the most efficient players in the draft, whether he’s lining up as a running back, tight end, or receiver. It’s preposterous that he was available at No. 165 overall.
Loser: The Saints
Their fourth-round pick, 127th overall, was weird.
Saints pick OT Rick Leonard: not on the consensus board. Would have ranked 426th
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) April 28, 2018
They gave up their first-round pick next year to trade up for UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport in the first round. Maybe that will work out, and maybe it really, really won’t.
Loser: the Bills
It’s been a few days since this happened, but it’s still the case that the Bills traded up to get the No. 7 overall pick and then spent it on a quarterback whose statistical upside — if everything goes exactly right for him — is to basically be Ryan Mallett. Maybe the Bills weren’t being dumb when they moved heaven and earth to take Josh Allen. Maybe basic human logic and math itself were the ones making the mistakes.